Mixing Kibble With Raw Meat - Is It OK?

There are several reasons why pet owners mix kibble with raw meat, the main reason being your dog is in the middle of a transition to a fully raw diet. The question on most owners’ minds though, is it ok to mix kibble with raw meat? 

The short answer, yes but only for a short period of time and by taking extra steps to ensure there are no damaging consequences. 

Today we discuss mixing kibble with raw, how to limit the downside of mixing dry and raw food and how to take steps to ensure that your dog reaps the benefits of raw dog food without any risk to its health. 

How does your dog digest food? 

To fully realize the potential consequences of mixing kibble with raw food, we first have to understand how your dog digests its food. 

Your dog’s digestive tracts contain enzymes which are responsible for the digestion of food and converting food to energy. Protein is responsible for building structures in the body. Fat builds the walls of your dog’s cells. Carbohydrates only supply energy to your dog. 

Predigested food is found in your dog’s stomach. Some digestive enzymes are also found in the dog’s stomach. The remainder of the enzymes are released from your dog’s pancreas and then into the small intestines. This is where the digestive process is completed. 

Your dog’s stomach also protects your dog from harmful bacteria that may be present in the food it consumes by secreting hydrochloric acid from the stomach walls. Thus, the pH value of the stomach is maintained at around 2, which is very acidic. 

The acid in your dog’s digestive tract has four functions, which are:

  • Release enzymes in the stomach to predigest food
  • Prevent and stop the growth of harmful bacteria
  • Release enzymes from the pancreas for further digestion
  • Absorb minerals and nutrients from your dog’s meals

How kibble alters digestion

One of the main ingredients of kibble is starch. This starch increases the pH values of the stomach. When the pH of the stomach and gut increases, thus becoming less acidic, the harmful bacteria such as E coli and salmonella are more likely to survive, causing digestive upsets or illness in your dog. 

Remember, the acidic environment (pH 2) of your dog’s gut is what protects your dog against these pathogenic bacteria. 

Over the centuries, dogs have evolved to handle bacteria that is present in raw meat. However, if the pH in their digestive tract is changed due to feeding inappropriate food such as kibble (starch), some of that protection becomes less effective.

An enzyme (pepsin) is responsible for breaking proteins into amino acids. However, pepsin is only activatedif your dog’s digestive tract pH is around2. Once predigested food leaves the stomach, the pH needs to be at the optimal value to trigger the release of the pancreatic enzymes that do most of the digestion. 

A higher pH due to starch means that fewer enzymes will be released thus potentially causing undigested food particles to trigger inflammation, leaky gut syndrome or immune disorders. 

This is why mixing kibble and raw dog food puts your dog at increased risk of health issues. So what do you do? Do you throw the kibble out immediately? That may not be an option if your dog is transitioning from dry to raw food. However, there are options to make mixing kibble and raw dog food safer for your dog’s consumption

How to make kibble and raw a safer combination?

To put it simply, mixing raw and kibble poses a risk to your dog due to the changes in the pH of your dog’s digestive tract. If you control the pH, the transition towards a raw diet will go much smoother. 

There are two simple ways so that mixing kibble with raw food is safer:

1. Using probiotics

By adding probiotics to the mix of kibble and raw food, harmful pathogens will be crowded out. For example salmonella activity is stopped by friendly bacteria. 

The probiotics also help in the production of digestive enzymes, improving dog digestion. 

High quality probiotics supplements such as the Petcubes’ Digest-All Plus contains a concentrated and potent blend of probiotics!


2. Using apple cider vinegar

Adding some organic apple cider vinegar to your dog’s mix of kibble and raw food will help lower the gut pH. 

You can add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food for every 50 pounds (about 22kg) of body weight. However, only do this if you are feeding a mix of kibble and raw. If you are just serving raw dog food, there is no need to do so. 

Transitioning dogs from kibble to a raw diet

Although mixing kibble and raw dog food is not entirely recommended, sometimes it is unavoidable, especially if your dog is in the middle of a transition. Always transition towards a full raw diet gradually over a period of time and take steps to ensure your dog’s stomach is not uncomfortable. The safest way would be to introduce the raw meat as a snack first in small amounts and then work your way up to having separate small meals of kibble and meat, until the raw meat meals are larger than the kibble meal.  

Raw feeding is quite simple and straightforward but it may take some time before your dog is 100% comfortable with it. With the many benefits of raw food compared to kibble, it is well worth the time to make the switch to raw for your dog.

As always, it is best to consult your veterinarian if you are unsure about the diet your dog is getting.

Conclusion

Wherever possible, avoid mixing kibble and raw food so that your dog maintains a healthy gut. The Petcubes range of raw dog food removes the fuss if you’re preparing the raw food on your own. you really do not want the hassle of mixing kibble and raw food on your own when transitioning your dog over to a fully raw meal. This is a good option as the raw food is already nutritionally balanced and made with quality ingredients.

Reviewed by: 

Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.

You have successfully subscribed!